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A Thought for Today

Almost anything is easier than ‘grace under pressure’ - but nothing is as gratifying as knowing you pulled it off.


Today I’m off to the studio again but before I go I thought I’d leave something old and something new behind. The first poem, “Summertree II” is three days old. Further down in the Flight Plan is “Valentine” written in 1984.

A private conceit, known only to two people, ties the two poems together. Lets see how long the other party to the secret can keep it that way.

Summertree, II

The old oak stands
               almost alone
as he has stood for ages, eons maybe.
No regrets, recriminations, none.
The strength he’s gathered from
                      the weathered years
has made him stronger than he might
have dreamed, had he imagination
                      all those acorn years ago.

It might have been more joyous
and more comforting to live amid the forest
touching branches with his peers, communicating
with the local club of trees and vines. Part of
the great community, mixing in until he blended
blandly with the canopy that guards the moss
         and shades the gentle fern and underbrush,
                              but stunts the young growth,
robs sunlight from the saplings – would be trees,
while fighting for some sunshine of his own.

It is the way of neighborhoods and communes
to put self and the like group first. Never mind
that sagging Sycamore across the street.

The Oak had heard the Forrest murmurs long ago
and knew, from picked up gossip, rumblings,
passing leaves the wind had carried and even
laughter after lightning, that he was different.

At first he felt outcast, alone. But through the years
he learned to revel in this being different, not like
              others, original, separate and separated.
One of a kind has its advantages, he often thought,
(while knowing there would always be
a something missing that goes with non-conformity.)

The something missing was the touch, embraces
                             from the unknown others.
Some nights he ached as he considered
the awful possibility of only warmth from distant sun
and none from new Oak that would grow nearby
then lean toward him with a promised touch.
Touch is everything to old trees, handshakes become
embraces, an arm around the shoulder, near copulation.

Mistake the rub-up of a branch for love? Not likely,
but love from distance or nearby is only love
while touch grows rarer as the circles round his trunk
tick off the centuries of even strongest Oak.

The probabilities of stray Wisteria
or even simple ivy groping through the grass
toward him for a climb was to remote
                                             to ruminate about.

Ah well, the years – even those alone
had all been good and more would come.
The Summertree would nap a bit,
then check the progress of the nest construction
in his snowy foliage later in the afternoon.
If I close my eyes a bit, a dream might happen by.

I imagine, though I wouldn’t know for certain,
                      even old Oaks go on dreaming.

RM 5/7/01 2:14 PM / Previously unpublished

It's taken some time but finally we're delighted to announce the posting of a selection of photographs from both the Thousand Oaks and Aurora concerts. You can reach them via the link below.

Concert Photographs

notable birthdays Fred Astaire o Ken Berry (baseball) o (Paul Hewson) Bono o Amanda Borden o Mother Maybelle Carter o Jimmy Demaret o Donovan o Ariel Durant o Linda Evangelista o Ella Grasso o Phil Mahre o Steve Mahre o Gary Owens o David O. Selznick o Max Steiner o Pat Summerall o Kenan Thompson o Dimitri Tiomkin o Sid Vicious o Nancy Walker
Rod's random thoughts All of us are essentially alone and ill equipped to deal with it.

Old poets are forever trapped by thoughts let go of in their prime.

Because imagination sticks, gets caught, settles in as we grow older, finally there is only one long silent hour- even if it lasts a day.


I like my body lying next to yours
that is a strange admission
from a man who shrinks
              at passing mirrors,
who’s learned to shave
while still not seeing his own chin.
I like my leg against your leg
                       and over it
the muscle quivering to touch
the luxury of thighs that open onto thighs.
I like our sighs together and I like
my body lying next to yours at night
                       and every morning.

I wear you
coming next to you
as I would a clean cotton shirt
soft to the touch you are and tingling.

I love the loss of vagrancy inside your arms
your fingers swarming on my back
        like bees attacking a single flower
the light from out your eyelids coming
the puzzled humming in my ear
as you nod yes not having heard
the question that I asked.
Your hair unmasked for what it is
a tangled web of craziness
is like a whim not taken up
so too your mouth is glowing, fair,
runs hot and cold and in no pattern.
I like our elbows, noses, knees
interrupting rhythms that should be truer.
Your breasts/chest skillful, genius each,
priceless in a bed world
whose currency is chance.

I love the ample of you
               and the lean
the part of you expecting flesh
and rising up to meet it.
The symmetry of you is what I love
               odd angles too,
those sweet energy propelling sighs
and little cries from you.
The ivory underside of you
the tanned and glowing legs and arms.
All honey to the heart, all pasture to the eyes
the size of you is one great breath
taken in, held, not expelled, not ever.
Ingenious are your ankles, calves, hips
stepping stones to that great wonder
                              on ahead.

What I love most is my body next to yours
it is a vanity, a wonderful conceit.

- from Folio No.43 - Winter 1984

© 1970, 1984, 1988, 2001 by Stanyan Music Group & Rod McKuen. All Rights Reserved
Birthday research by Wade Alexander o Poetry from the collection of Jay Hagan o Coordinated by Melinda Smith
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